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Our Community: Easter run offers the colours of spring

People looking for something fun to do Easter weekend should check out the Easter Seals Splash of Colour Family Fun Run on Saturday. On the surface, it is a non-timed five-kilometre walk or run through the trails at Royal Roads University.
Bruce and Bonnie Irving, along with their two therapy dogs Duffy and Kinnegoe.

People looking for something fun to do Easter weekend should check out the Easter Seals Splash of Colour Family Fun Run on Saturday.

On the surface, it is a non-timed five-kilometre walk or run through the trails at Royal Roads University. Unlike a typical run, participants at Saturday’s event will be splashed with coloured powder at five points along the route, finishing the run covered head to toe in an Easter-themed variety of bright colours.

“It was a sellout last year. It was so much fun,” said Shannon Bernays of the B.C. Lions Society, which hosted the event. “It’s a typical charity walk with a fun twist to it.”

Participants are given white T-shirts to wear at the start of the run. Volunteers at various stations will douse runners with coloured food dye along the way. People can ask for as little or as much colour they desire. If they don’t want the colour to set, they can simply brush it off their clothing at the end. Adding water will set the colours into the fabric.

Knowing that the colours set with water, some people deliberately run with their hair wet.

“It’s an inexpensive way to dye your hair in five different colours,” said Bernays.

Last year, between registrations and donations, the event raised moe than $30,000. It’s popularity has spawned similar runs in Kelowna and Vernon this year.

The proceeds benefit the Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan, where about 300 kids with disabilities get to attend a one-week adventure in the summer.

The event costs $35, which includes a t-shirt and sunglasses. Children six and younger are free, but will have to pay the fee if they want a T-shirt and sunglasses. The event runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Royal Roads University. Details


Four-legged friends doing good work   

Last week was National Volunteer Week in Canada, a time to acknowledge and recognize the 13 million volunteers who give their time to serve their communities. In Victoria, volunteers include both two and four-legged ambassadors.

Bruce and Bonnie Irving are the owners of two dogs, Duffy, a six-year-old bearded collie, and Kinnegoe, a seven-year-old golden retriever. When Bonnie’s mother was in care at Gorge Road Hospital six years ago, they tried to take the dogs to visit her. But they were told only therapy dogs were permitted on the premises.

Undaunted, they joined the Pacific Animal Therapy Society and certified their dogs. Therapy dogs provide comfort and social interaction for people in hospitals, nursing homes or for children with learning disabilities. The couple and their charges visit patients at the Gorge Hospital and the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Vancouver Island Centre every week.

“We have found people suffering from dementia typically still have memories of pets and music,” said Bruce. “The dogs are used to being called a number of different names.”

The couple say the highlight of volunteering is seeing the joy their dogs bring to people going through cancer treatment. They feel that their dogs are able to reduce stress of patients, family members and staff during cancer treatment.

The Irvings are part of a long-standing tradition of volunteerism at the B.C. Cancer Agency. In 2013, more than 700 volunteers contributed almost 60,000 hours of time across the province to  provide some type of help or solace to patients, family and friends during their cancer journey.

For information, go to

Cancer Society looks for volunteers

The Canadian Cancer Society is looking for volunteers from Victoria to help with their two 2014 Relay For Life events. Each event typically requires 15 to 20 volunteers in event planning and organization.

The overnight event is scheduled to take place on June 14 from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. at City Centre Park. The daytime relay will take place June 21 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Victoria High School.

Relay for Life is the largest cancer fundraiser in the world. More than 12,000 people from 49 British Columbia and Yukon communities are expected to participate this year. Last year, the two local relays welcomed a total of 50 teams and raised more than $96,000 for cancer research. For more information, go to

Watch for heroes at today’s MS Walk 

Victorians will be among 40,000 people in 160 communities across Canada taking part in today’s Scotiabank MS Walk. In British Columbia more than 6,000 people will try to raise $1.3 million in pledges to help the 10,000 people who live with multiple sclerosis.

The theme for this year’s walk is Heroes — in honour of all of the heroes who contribute to the fight to end the disease. Organizers expect a myriad of masked magnates and caped crusaders to join forces with everyday heroes — moms, wives, brothers, and best friends of people with MS.

Proceeds benefit the MS Society, which helps fund community-based support and services to those living with MS and their families.

The walk is both family-friendly and wheelchair accessible, allowing an opportunity for individuals who have multiple sclerosis to take part.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., starting at Willows Beach Park in Oak Bay. For more information, go to

Fundraiser a feast for the palate

Colour Your Palate is a feast for the eyes as much as the palate. At Tuesday’s event, well-known chefs from leading restaurants compete for awards with artful canapés that express colour visually and flavourfully. This year’s colours include blue, green, red, orange, yellow and purple.

Culinary experts blind-judge for two awards and event guests sample all the canapés and vote for the People’s Choice award.

The event includes a complimentary beer or wine, samples of 12 canapés, door prizes and opportunities to bid on a large selection of silent auction items.

Proceeds benefit the OCTA (Only Creating Thinking Allowed) Collective, a non-profit that delivers arts workshops to elementary schools identified as having a high population of low-income families.

Tickets are $60 in advance, $65 at the door if there are still tickets available. The event runs 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the University Club, West Campus Way, University of Victoria.

For more information, or to purchase tickets online, go to or call 778-678-6282.

Volunteers vital to Island Health

A dedicated group of gardeners are among the 6,000 volunteers that provide more than 500,000 hours of volunteer service at Island Health.

“Volunteers play an incredibly important role contributing to our social fabric and in improving the lives of others, not only in health-care settings, but throughout our communities,” said Dr. Brendan Carr, Island Health president and CEO. “I personally want to thank every one of the volunteers for your dedication to our patients, clients and residents.  We recognize and celebrate your contribution — you truly make a difference.”

She made the comments last week, in recognition of National Volunteer Week in Canada.

The dedicated gardeners regularly gather on the grounds of Eagle Park Health Care Centre in Qualicum Beach on Monday mornings to prune shrubs, water the colourful hanging baskets and tend to the other needs of the gardens.

“Gardeners brighten our facilities and really contribute to the quality of life for those who receive short-term and long-term care,” said Christine Foster, director of volunteer resources and auxiliaries at health provider.

The group, which show up in the spring, is joined by several others as the growing season progresses and the need for watering increases.

“The way I look at it, my mom’s an avid gardener and if the time comes for her to move into a facility like this, I would hope that she could look out at a beautiful scene,”  said Joann McArthur, one of the regular volunteers. “I do it for the love of gardening and to give the seniors peace of mind.”

Apart from gardening, people can volunteer to help in other ways, including sales at auxiliary outlets, activity assistance, friendly visits, appointment escorts, pet therapy and the candy striper program for young volunteers.

For more information, go to

Nominations sought for green awards

Nominations for the 2014 Saanich Environmental Awards are now being accepted. Nominations will be considered in the following categories:

• Individual Citizen
• Volunteer Organization
• Business
• Youth Group/School        
• Biodiversity and Conservation
• Long Term Environmental Achievement
• Sustainability

The awards were established in 2000 to promote environmental stewardship and leadership by recognizing local efforts to improve or conserve the environment or towards sustainability. Past award winners have participated in projects such as invasive species removal, environmental education, native plant propagation, waste reduction and conservation on private property. Business awards have been given for sustainable developments and energy efficiency programs.

Deadline for submissions is 4 p.m. April 25 at the municipal hall, 770 Vernon Ave. The award recipients will be announced June 9. For more information, go to

RCMP honour Bella Bella bravery

The Mounties always get their man, even after 36 years.

His hair may be a little greyer and his waistline thicker, but recently Kerry Widsten was formally recognized with the RCMP Certificate of Appreciation for an incident that occurred almost 36 years ago.

On a cold and foggy September evening in 1977, a violent confrontation broke out between two individuals in the small community of Bella Bella.

Then Cpl. Hunter MacDonald, in charge of the local RCMP detachment, was tasked with apprehending one of the men, who was believed to be armed and heading to the home of another man.

MacDonald was alone and requested Widsten assist him. They eventually encountered the man, who had stopped in his tracks and appeared to be pointing a weapon at them. After some hesitation, they determined it was not a firearm but a four-foot lead pipe. After some tense moments, the suspect was taken into custody.

“Without the assistance and calm demeanour of Mr. Widsten, this situation would not have been resolved peacefully and successfully,” said MacDonald, who is now retired.

Widsten, with his wife present, received the District Commander's Certificate of Appreciation from RCMP Superintendent Jim Faulkner, assistant district officer for Vancouver Island.

Go to Sears, get Girl Guide cookies

People shopping at more than 100 Sears stores across Canada today will have the convenience of purchasing Girl Guide cookies at the same time.

“Sears is very pleased to welcome Girl Guides of Canada to our stores at this special time of year,” said Vincent Power, vice-president of the chain. “Sears supports programs that help young people develop into healthy and responsible members of society and Guiding reflects long-enduring principles that help modern girls grow and contribute. Cookie Days are welcomed by Canadians everywhere and Sears is glad to be able to make it easy for its customers to pick up their classic Girl Guide cookies where they shop most frequently.”

To appeal to a larger market, the classic cookies are now certified as kosher. The classic chocolate and vanilla cookies are produced in a nut-free/peanut-free bakery, so people with allergies can safely enjoy them.

The $5-a-box cookies are the official fundraiser for Girl Guides across Canada. It is anticipated guides (and their caregivers) will sell more than 60 million cookies this spring. For more information, go to and check out the cookie-finder map.